Caraway Fourth of July celebration turns 60

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Caraway's Fourth of July celebration and picnic hit its 60th year. The 2006 celebration was a huge success with activities starting on Friday night and going through July 4. On Tuesday the day was kicked off with a parade, flag raising ceremony, and entertainment and drawings throughout the day.

The Caraway Community Rodeo returned for two nights of entertainment packing the ball park bleachers. This was the first rodeo since 1999 in Caraway. Through the joint efforts of the City of Caraway, Caraway Park Commission, Caraway Lions Club, and Caraway Community Arena organization the rodeo was brought back.

Gary Fletcher was named 2006 "Man of the Year." He was presented a plaque by master of ceremonies Harold Browning.

"Gary Fletcher is a supporter of Caraway and the Fourth of July celebration," Browning said. "Anytime you need something done, Gary is willing to do it. He designed and built some of our booths 15 years ago and we are still using them today. He has been instrumental in bringing the antique tractor show to the celebration. He is always willing to help where he is needed."

The parade included fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, search and rescue team, floats, antique cars, antique tractors, horses, 4-wheelers, and much more.

Parade winners were:

Antique car division: Gary Davis, 1956 pick-up; Shawn Harris, 1957 Chevrolet; Leroy and Mattie Douglas, 1938 Plymouth.

Antique tractor division: Ricky Cohn, 1960 John Deere, first place; Bill Foster, Farmall H, second place; Gary Fletcher, 1951 Case, third place.

4-Wheeler division: Shania Junyor, first place; James Alsup, second place; Kimberly Junyor, third place.

Float division: New Hope Baptist Church, first place; Caraway First Baptist Church, second place; and Assembly of God, third place.

Horse division: Sierra Tally, first place; Wayne Farley, second place; Sarah and Justin, third place.

Following the parade, the flag ceremony was conducted with former Caraway residents Major General Allen Bell and Mark Davis with the U.S. Army. Steven Sanders sang the National Anthem.

Following the flag ceremony, Davis and Bell honored area veterans and those serving in the military. Over 200 names were called.

Entertainment throughout the day on the bandstand included The McGills, The Gospel Heirs, and the Rob Colburn Family. Drawings were held throughout the day.

The Bottom Land Tractor Club sponsored its 10th annual show at the Caraway Fourth celebration. Best of Show award went to Truman and Doug Reams of Milligan Ridge for their 1949 Farmall Super A; Rick Cohn of Monette received first place for his 1960 John Deere 730 Gas; Gary Davis of Caraway received second place for his 1941 Ford 9 N; Dan Dunkerson of Caraway received third place for his 1950 WD Allis Chalmers. The Award of Excellence went to Bill Foster of Caraway with his 1947 Massey Harris Pony; Gary Fletcher received second for his 1957 Garden Master. The big tractor award went to Larry Dunkerson for his 1989 9180 Case IH 4-Wheel Drive tractor. An honorable mention was given to Bell and Davis for the 1953 Willy's M38 A-1 Army jeep.

"This was the biggest show in the 10 years we have been at the Caraway Fourth of July celebration," Bottom Land Tractor Club President Gary Fletcher said. "We appreciate everyone who participates in the show each year."

The rodeo began on Monday night and finished on Tuesday evening in the rain. Fans enjoyed events including bareback riding, saddle bronc, bull riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, team roping, barrel racing. Spectators had the opportunity to see several local contestants compete.

The stock contractor, Johnson and Jordan Rodeo Company of Jackson, Mo., is owned by former Caraway residents. Their company is sanctioned by the Arkansas Professional Rodeo Association and the International Professional Rodeo Association. The Johnson Rodeo Company was started by Floyd Johnson. The rodeo opened with a "riderless horse" memorial led by Mandy Emery of Caraway in honor of Floyd Johnson who passed away Dec. 27, 2004. Johnson was a native of Caraway graduating from Caraway High School in 1953. After Mr. Johnson's death, his wife, Mary Jane, and son, Mark, continue to own and operate Johnson and Jordan Rodeo Company.

Mandy Emery assisted in coordinating the opening flag ceremonies. Riders included Emery, LeighAnn Short of Lake City, Jessica Davis, April Davis, and Amber Poore, all from Jonesboro, and Katey Campbell of Black Oak. Lena Larussa who travels with the show.

Also appearing at the rodeo were Kyle Absure, Arkansas High School 2006 Rodeo Queen and Miss USA 2006 Rodeo Queen Stacey Jo Johnson.

Because of the rain, the fireworks and drawings were put off until Friday night when a large crowd returned for a spectacular fireworks display.

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